Name:Jeffrey Allan Nelson
DOB: November 7, 1966
College: Cantonsville Community College, MD
Became a Cardinal: Signed to a minor legue contract on January 16, 2006.
*The deal would pay him an $800,000 base salary should he pitch his was onto the major league club in spring training.
Career Notes: The 39-year-old has a career 48-44 record with a 3.41 ERA in 792 games with the Yankees, Texas and Seattle. Nelson pitched for the Mariners last season, his 14th in the major leagues. Nelson was an All-Star in 2001.
Nelson comes with a funky low-three-quarters delivery, and his wide-breaking slider is his bread and butter. He sets up the slider with a 90-MPH fastball. Understandably, he's at his best against right-handed hitters.
He has a slight pause in his delivery and creates enough deception to keep base runners honest. He has lost some of his fastball as you might expect from a 14 year veteran. He makes his living on his slider, which is more of a slurve. He throws the slurve to both sides of the plate with a big break. Nelson likes to start it away with left handers and try to get the batter to chase it. He struggles against left-handers. Last season left-handers hit .342 against him in 38 at bats. Nelson held right-handed batters to a .196 batting average and gave up only one home run to a right-hander in 97 at bats.
His control is considered average, as well as most of the aspects of his game. He knows he's no longer the pitcher that he used to be and he has become more of a nibbler around the plate, lacking the power stuff to throw by batters.
He'll not likely to be called upon to face more than one or two batters at a time and I still think he could be effective in that role against right-handed hitters.
The flip side is, a lot of people think Nelson is already washed up. Last season his ERA was nearly four, he walked 22 in 36 2/3 innings and his WHIP was 1.47. If you throw out the left-handed hitters, Nelson's numbers look a whole lot better.
Nelson brings a lot of post season experience to the team which could prove to be beneficial down the stretch. He played in five World Series with the New York Yankees, between 1996 - 2003 and in the16 games he appeared in, he has a career WS record of, 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA.
At one point last year, Nelson had announced that 2005 would be his final season. He's changed his mind and he'll try to make the Cardinals' 25 man roster out of spring training and play for one more season.
He struggled last year in spring training, posting a 5.00 ERA in nine spring innings with nine strikeouts and four walks. He'll have to do better than that this year if he plans to make the club without spending any time at AAA Memphis.
At this stage of his career, Nelson is at best a situational reliever against right-handers. He will compete for the last right-handed spot in the Cardinals' bullpen and considering the Cardinals and Manager Tony La Russa's penchant for veterans, Nelson has a good chance of making the team.
As far as I'm concerned, if you can hold right-handers to a sub .200 batting average and not give up the long ball, like he did last season, there should be a place for him on the major league roster for St. Louis for this season.